Summarized by Eric Bunker
Murder suspect's trial postponed, mired in confusion
Provo UT Daily Herald 29Jul99 L8
By Pat Christian: Daily Herald
PROVO, UT -- What a disorganized chicken-chase it has been in court for
accused teenage murderer, Edgardo S. Mata, as his defenders are playing
musical chairs. The chaotic sideshow came full flower last Wednesday when
Mata appeared in the 4th District Court. He has already had a preliminary
hearing and was bound over for a trial that has been on hold because he was
not represented. The case was postponed for a few weeks until adequate
representation is found.
Mata, a member of the Church, stands accused of a Dec. 19th gang-dispute
murder at Club Omni in Provo and has been incarcerated since his arrest in
December. The 18-year-old faces charges in the murder case of Ramon Pena,
17, who was shot in the head at the dance club.
Initially, he had a public defender, but then his mother hired a private
attorney, Dean Zabriskie, who took the case for a few months until he
himself was arrested on criminal charges. Until his mother finds a new
lawyer, he was again assigned a public defender, Carlos Garcia, just before
court. His mother is currently trying to get Provo attorney Sheldon Carter
to represent him.
At court, his bishop showed up at the request of his mother to find and
connect with Mr. Carter about Mata's representation. There he happened to
meet another Provo attorney Robert Culas, and Culas told him he had come to
court "to make an appearance for Mata." But he said he knew little about the
case. However, as it turned out Culas did not appear for Mata.
Inside the courtroom, attorneys Carter, Garcia and Zabriskie talked together
privately about the case. When the district judge called Mata's case, it was
Zabriskie spoke up, though officially Public defender Carlos Garcia
represented Mata in court that day.
At an earlier hearing, Mata had told Judge Ray Harding Senior that he
wanted Carter to represent him. But he said he had not yet retained him.
Carter told The Daily Herald more than a week ago he had talked to Mata, but
had not decided if he would take the case.